Exploring Flores island with kids

Our first stop in Flores was to lauban Bajo, the stopping point for Komodo national park. It’s also a fairly untouched landscape and so we decided to explore more of Flores island with kids.  You can also read how to book a boat tour in Komodo national park here.

Most people start their tour of Flores island and travel overland from Lauban Bajo.  However, we had recently travelled across Java and so planned only 6 more days on Flores. That’s when we realised we needed malaria tablets for Flores island (one of the few areas in Indonesia which is a high risk malaria area!). So we made a stop at a local chemist to get Doxycycline!

Instead of hiring a driver we flew to Ende in order to reach Kelimutu. Keith was massively disappointed, but it was just as expensive to hire a driver and the reports of windy roads on cliff edges were enough to put me off.

We had looked at Wae rebo (a remote traditional village in the mountains) as a possible inclusion but reviews were mixed on whether it was now more of a tourist attraction, therefore we gave it a miss.

Flight to Ende

We booked to fly with wings air, a prop plane which reminded me of flying home!

It was a prompt and seamless process, although we did see some irate customers who were keen to see their baggage leave the flight as many of these routes are connecting and so on several Islands!

The airport had a basically couple of small shops and little, over priced, cafe and a large waiting room. If you want snacks for the flight I suggest you but them in town.

When we arrived in Ende there was a stream of taxi  drivers ready to take you to Moni. However, as we arrived late afternoon we decided to stay over night in F hostel. The area and we had to walk for about 15 minutes in the dark looking for food! We eventually stumbled on a place which served nasi goreng (fried rice!).

Drive from Ende to Kelimutu

The route from Ende to Kelimutu isn’t too bad. We had planned to take the local bus, but unfortunately it was a national holiday and it wasn’t clear if buses would be running. 

Therefore we arranged for a driver with our accommodation. We were picked up late morning and travelled through the hills, and past paddy fields as we crossed through the centre of Flores. The scenery was beautiful and as we had a driver we were able to stop and take pictures en route.

As you’d expect the route is windy but the roads are in fairly good condition with little traffic. As such we made it to moni (the village near Kelimutu) in about 1 hour.

 

Arriving in Moni 

The temperature was much cooler in the hills and a refreshing change.

We were booked to stay at Bintang Bungalows for a couple of nights. 

It’s only a small village with a handful of shacks but surprisingly there are a couple of nice eateries! It was very quaint. But we were told by the owner of mopi’s that the land is owned by the locals of the area and is protected – hence why there’s no high rise.

Next door to our accommodation was another hotel with a lovely restaurant attached, Bintang cafe & restaurant (Brother in law to the bungalows we were in). 

The most restaurant lovely place in town was mopi’s place. It was run by an Australian lady and her husband and plays live music regularly. It was quite a hub of activity with a nice atmosphere. Food was good, and although slightly higher than we are used to – it wasn’t extortionate. We enjoyed a nice cold beer here!

It was only a short walk through the town where we saw a number of school children, heard the church bells ring and gazed over the paddy fields. 

Getting to Kelimutu lakes

Again, we organised our driver with Bintang bungalows. We woke at 4am for the 40 minute car ride up the mountain. 

Note: if you organise a driver when you get to Moni make sure you get there number. We heard of several issues with travellers when their driver just didn’t show up. We heard this too many times for it not to be a common occurrence – so be sure you have the details! 

During our drive we waited for the park gates to open and paid the fee of 150,000 IDR pp. Try and time your visit as the fee is 250,000 IDR on Sundays and public holidays.

We stopped at a large car park (where there are toilets and a couple of restaurants). Usually your driver will wait for you and return back to your accommodation. But we waved him away and said we would walk back down!  More on that in a minute. 

Make sure you have a torch (the path is not kit) and where warm clothes! 

We didn’t really have a clue where to go next, but we just followed the crowd along a path. It was too dark to really see where we were. After about 20 minutes we arrived at the top.  It was very cloudy and were not hopefully of a sunrise photo.

In fact as the sun started to rise (behind the clouds) we couldn’t even make out the lakes! 

Kelimutu is a set of 3 different coloured lakes, ranging in different blue and green colours. Although, I had read that it’s been known to turn brown and red?! 

When the clouds did clear we managed to see all three lakes and they were definitely bluey green in colour – spectacularly so! The clouds had created a softness and the sound was muffled. Quite calming. 

It was quite chilly though, and although there were a handful of sellers with noodles, tea or coffee stations – there really wasn’t much else. So after about an hour we started our descent. 

 

Walking from Kelimutu lakes to Moni

We had an extra day in Moni in order that we could enjoy the mountain scenery. Therefore, we decided to walk the 10km from Kelimutu lakes back to Moni.

The first part of the walk were through the gardens and forests near Kelimutu lakes. It was pitch black on the way up so we could take in our surroundings.

It was all downhill and, for the most part, was on the road we drove up. But as we walked down and the clouds cleared we got some beautiful views.

There is a turning off the road providing a shortcut through villages (with the most immaculate gardens I’ve seen!!)

And through forests & fields. The turning itself was difficult to spot, but locals helped guide our way. But the path was ready enough to find, especially with the help of OSandM offline maps!

We weaved our way down until we reached the waterfall!  But by this time we were tired and hungry so didn’t stop long. In fact, we had to get some help from locals just to cross the river!! 

Soon we were back in Moni. A bit tough on the old knees from the downhill, but it only took us 2 hours 15 minutes (including getting a bit lost!).

Our guesthouse owner was ready with our muchly needed breakfast! We could have easily checked out and left that afternoon. But we decided to stay another night and enjoy the cooler and fresher mountain air! There isn’t a huge amount to do but the boys rested and we caught up with a few jobs!

Moni to Maumere

The next morning we wanted to be up bright and early to catch a bemo to maumere. 

Bemos are small minibuses which have no set schedule but pass through the same route everyday collecting locals and transporting them across the island (there’s only 1 road from Ende to maumere!)

As soon as I stepped down on to the roadside (where you flag down a bemo) one turned up! Keith wasn’t even out of the room yet and they were trying to pile me into the bus! Waaaiiitt a minute!

They were keen to get going so Keith and the kids needed to rush, but we weren’t getting in until we’d negotiated a price! IDR 50,000 per person and as luck would have it they were dropping us to the door! 

There were only a handful of seats left and so we were scattered through the bus. 

The journey itself wasn’t too bad. It was very windy but the driver wasn’t erratic so it was fairly smooth. I guess this depends on your driver! A little girl was sick, but it’s obviously common as the ‘helper’ had a stack of black small sacks he handed back! We were fine!

It took around 3 hours to reach Maumere. We had a stop over just 20 minutes down the road – but I assume this is because everyone else on the bus had been on for much longer! Oh and the price did suddenly double when we got dropped off, but we refused to pay it and handed them the agreed amount without fuss – nice try!! 🙄

Note: I had debated stopped for a night or two at koka beach, but we changed our plans and just stayed longer in Maumere. If you are looking for a place to stop this may be a good option.

 

Maumere

A rather peculiar and non descript kind of town. We really only came here for a bit of R&R and also it’s Keith’s birthday (but we aren’t allowed to mention that!).  Therefore I booked somewhere more to his rate (shack on a beach style) rather than a hotel with a pool (ha ha).  

We stayed at a lovely place called pantai paris.  It was run by a German guy, Hermann and his lovely wife. It was very chilled, and busy, with many travellers passing through, which also made it very social. It was based on the beach and there was a little snorkel site nearby. The property had snorkels you could loan – perfect. 

They also had a go kart that the boys played on and served Donuts with free tea and coffee all day!! It was just heaven for everyone – ha ha! 

Our evenings were eating in a nearby warung and socialising with other travellers!

There are a few activities to do around the area, such as boat trips to Islands, snorkeling trips or venturing further to larantuka. 

For us, we just enjoyed having company in the form of fellow travellers and just having time to research and book our next few months travel!! 

Conclusion

Flores was definitely off the beaten track with most questions about internal travel answered with a shrug.

We saw a small number of travellers on our journey, but few families. It’s not really the easiest island to get around and so can be off putting for families.

But if you can get over this then it’s definitely somewhere you should visit. The views are stunning as you wind your way through the valleys and mountains. 

The coast also offers some fantastic diving and snorkelling opportunities, especially around Komodo national park. 

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